Code4Lib Chicago Spring Meeting at ATLA Headquarters

Submitted by Andy Carter, ATLA Digital Projects Manager, and Christy Karpinski, ATLA Digital Collections Metadata Librarian

On May 16, ATLA hosted the Code4lib Chicago Spring Meeting in our downtown office. Code4lib is a nationwide organization of developers and technologists who work for and with libraries. We saw this event as a chance to share ATLA’s digital projects, meet our peers in the Chicago area and learn about what other institutions are working on. This meeting of the Chicago chapter brought together twenty-five people from academic and public libraries around Chicago to share and discuss current technical projects and interests.

The event was scheduled as a mix of twenty-minute presentations, lightning talks, and break-out sessions for more in-depth discussions. The best parts of any conference are the human connections and conversations started around topics of mutual interest. There were many interesting and novel ideas kicked around by the participants, more than a summary can fairly capture. We’d like to highlight four presentations by ATLA staff as they offer a glimpse of the talents and projects inside of our home office.

Highlights of the Day

The day started with ATLA Production Programmer Timothy Yoder talking about API first software development and presenting a project he created with ATLA Production Software Developer Stephen Hull called “Incremental Noir.” This project demonstrates the benefits of API first development through a playful collaborative writing tool. Using the online application participants help create a noir story by contributing a line or two after only being shown the line that comes right before theirs. You can check it out here and view the presentation slides here.

Andy Carter presenting on the ATLA Digital Library harvesting tool.

Andy Carter, Digital Projects Manager, then gave a preview of the ATLA Digital Library’s harvest tool. The idea for this tool was to create a user-friendly interface for metadata harvesting into the ATLA Digital Library. The tool allows anyone to easily set up and initiate a “harvest” of a contributing institution’s digital collections into the digital library. It pulls in the metadata, a thumbnail image, and a link back to the original item and creates this as a new item in the ATLA Digital Library.  You will be able to learn more about this at ATLA Annual in Indianapolis this year (a shameless plug!).

Ozzy Flores presenting on Docker.

Ozzy Flores, ATLA Systems Analyst, presented his work on using Docker to facilitate launching a new instance of digital library software on a laptop. Docker automates the process of configuring and launching the digital library without the need of advanced coding skills. This work has allowed us quickly try out changes to the digital library’s appearance and functionality before making those changes live on the production digital library. You can learn more about Docker here.


Iskandar Bcheiry presents on database on historical registers.

And ATLA Metadata Analyst Iskandar Bcheiry gave an update on his plan to create a database of historical registers and archives belonging to the Syriac community. Iskandar first presented on this project at the 2017 ATLA Annual Conference, and has since been planning on ways to make the database more impactful for “scholars and students of Syriac studies, Near East Christian studies, and Ottoman history.” You can read more about his project in the ATLA Newsletter.

The Code4Lib Chicago Spring Meeting led to engaging questions and conversations throughout the day. It was an encouraging and thoughtful group of professionals, and we all left with a bit of camaraderie based on our shared work experiences. Our thanks go out to everyone who attended and to everyone at ATLA who helped make the day a success.

Andy Carter is the ATLA Digital Projects Manager. As an archivist and metadata librarian, he has worked on many collaborative digitization projects.











Christy Karpinski is the ATLA Digital Collections Metadata Librarian. As a librarian she has worked to digitize and describe library and museum collections. She also teaches photography and web design at Columbia College Chicago.

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